My print, Detainment, was based upon a photo I saw while reading an article on the immigration crisis at the border in Texas. The image was of two detained children, in a detention center, lying on uncomfortably small, green mats on the hard, concrete floor behind a fence. The image of the children behind the fence was incredibly shocking and the environment the children were living in was clearly incredibly inhumane. I wanted to exhibit and demonstrate the cruelty that occurs to those, including children, within detention centers. I plan to go to law school after graduating college to become an immigration lawyer; immigration issues have always been at the forefront of my mind when I am thinking of social justice issues in America, especially while witnessing the current rhetoric of our government and their enforcement of xenophobic values.
Another point of inspiration for my print was Tona Wilson’s artists’ book, Stories Behind Bars. Her artists’ book highlighted the difficulties of immigrants living in detention and shined light on several stories of detainees. I was moved by Wilson’s artwork and it’s message, because the immigration crisis is a pertinent issue in the US at the moment, and I decided that it was a topic I also wanted to speak out about in my artwork. For my broadside, I decided to focus on the conditions within detainment; how children have been mercilessly been thrown in cages, living in near-inhabitable conditions, and at many times separated from their parents and loved ones. In my print, I attempted to critique the conditions of private detention centers and shed light on the veiled, brutal treatment of immigrants while detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In my print, I tried to capture the despicable and grim conditions within private detention centers at the border. Throughout the printmaking process, I ran my print through the presses three different times. First, using cut-vinyl, I tried to recreate the image of the deflated small matts that the children in the image had been sleeping on. I decided creating the image of the matts would be the first image I printed because they need to appear to be in the background, behind the fence. Next, using a pressure print I cut out, I was able to print over the image of the matts, creating a fence on top of them. I was very pleased with the appearance of the texture and pattern of the pressure, though in the end I wish I could have printed in a darker grey, to create more contrast upon the original cut-vinyl prints. Lastly, I typeset several lines of text to put at the top of my print as an explanation and as a method of critique of the private detention centers that create profit off of the detained population that they house in inhospitable living arrangements. The font I selected to typeset was Scripps College Old Style. My first line of text was a statement released by an employee of the CBP and I chose to make it 18-point font. The second line of text was a comment on the conditions of detainment centers and those who run them, and it was printed in 14-point font.
-Jamie Berkson, Scripps '21